Editor's Notes

By Hefling, Charles | Anglican Theological Review, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Editor's Notes


Hefling, Charles, Anglican Theological Review


Authority-where it lies, who exercises it, and how it is to be exercised-has always generated theological questions. Because they are questions with a practical bearing, however "theoretical" they become, the Christian church has had to deal with them over and over. The Windsor Report, to which the last issue of this journal was devoted, is a case in point. If it does nothing else, the Report shows clearly how new situations call for new investigation of perennial issues. One of the Report's more notable pronouncements is to the effect that it will not do to invoke the authority of the Holy Spirit as an all-purpose trump card. Yet neither will it do to discount the Spirit s work in the church's working-out of its concrete difficulties. How, then, shall Christians arrive at an authoritative understanding of how the authority of the Spirit is to be discerned? Such is the problematic that Nicholas Healy explores in the address with which this issue opens. Speaking as a Roman Catholic, at a university with deep Anglican roots, Healy brings an illuminating perspective to issues that will not grow less pressing in any foreseeable future.

The idea that the authoritative formulas which articulate the Anglicanness of Anglicanism are not doctrinal but liturgical has been an Anglican commonplace for some time now. As with much conventional wisdom, there is more that needs to be said, but certainly the meaning embodied in the practice of "common prayer" has played and continues to play a central role in defining Anglican identity. In this regard it is interesting to note that the Episcopal Church's "new" Prayer Book is now one of the oldest revisions in the Anglican Communion. Since it came into use thirty years ago, rites of initiation, especially, have been subject to further consideration, with the result that a very old question-the nature and purpose of confirmationhas reappeared in a new context. Two of the essays in this issue, written by Kathryn Tanner and Joe Burnett, were contributions to discussion of this question in the Theology Committee of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops. The ATR is grateful to the Committee's chair, Bishop Henry Parsley, for making it possible to bring them to a wider audience.

It is a pleasure to welcome back to these pages Douglas BurtonChristie, whose explorations of spirituality have been received with enthusiasm by readers of this journal. Here his theme is solitude in the most serious sense: a solitude, as he puts it, "not rooted in fear or a desire to flee from the challenges of relationship, but rather arising from a desire to face oneself honestly, to be remade in the image of God, and to arrive at a deeper sense of how to live in authentic relationship with others. …

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